Still swimming

I have gone to the swim coach for 4 weeks now. I have bettered my crawl and back strokes and have learned the breast stroke and the butterfly.

My crawl was, of course, my strongest stroke (that’s the normal stroke). But I had some serious errors in my execution of the stroke. Joel, my coach, had me work on some error correcting exercises for a couple of weeks. It is amazing how much one can improve when given the right pointers along the way.

I was also given some error correcting exercises for my back stroke. Since I don’t like that stroke and don’t really know what I was doing wrong, I never asked Joel what I was trying to correct. Just do the exercises and move on.

The breast stroke, while very physically demanding, is a stroke I have always liked. I basically knew how to swim it, or at least thought I did. The reason I like this stroke is that I feel like it is the easiest one to breathe with, even easier than the back stroke for me. And, let’s face it, breathing is always a good thing.

Butterfly is by far the hardest of the strokes. It is very demanding. Coordination is everything. I am capable of complicated moves, but the learning of new moves and timing sometimes takes a bit of work. I just started working on this stroke last week. It may be a while before I am comfortable with it.

I have learned that I am pitiful with my kicking no matter what stroke it is. As a SCUBA diver you learn to kick with your whole leg. That allows you to use your biggest muscles while letting the fins do the real work. Swimming needs much more flexibility in the knees. Still learning that. I have not learned the trick of the frog kick yet to make it powerful. When I see my coach do it, it is amazing how far he can travel on each kick. When I do it, I feel like I am just going through the motions, but not going anywhere. The worst thing I can hear my coach say is “Get a kickboard and do 100 meters with the frog kick.” AAAaaaaa!

Friday Joel had me doing an oxygen depletion workout. This was the first really hard workout I have done. Normally, in the crawl stroke, you would swim 3 strokes and then take a breath, then 3 and a breath. This gets you breathing to the left and right and is about often enough to be comfortable. He wanted me to swim 100 meters while breathing 3 strokes and then 5 strokes. By the time it was over I was pretty winded.

The next phase of the torture was to have me swim constantly for much further than I have done before. Up to this point I have been allowed to swim the length of the pool (25 meters) and rest as long as I want before returning. There has never been time pressure. But Friday my task was to swim 50 meters (breathing normally), rest 30 seconds and then 100 meters and rest 1 minute. I was supposed to do 6 sets of those. Somehow I convinced myself that he said to do 3 sets. When I told him I finished, he had a puzzled look and asked if I really did 6 sets. Oops. He looked me over and decided it was safest to just do 2 more sets.

I swallowed so much water and worked harder than I normally do in a 5K road race. I was physically ill. It took me a couple of hours after class to start feeling right again. But, I am gaining endurance and learning how to breath better.

In total I swam 1100 meters during class. It normally takes me 10 to 15 minutes after class to finish swimming 1000 meters. I know none of this is very hard for someone who has been swimming a while. But I have only been at it for 11 hours of class over the last 4 weeks. I have improved my strokes and learned some new ones. Now I am getting into the meat of why I wanted to take the class in the first place which is building endurance and speed.

My swimming has cut into my running time, but I will be doing a whole lot more running starting in July when I no longer have access to the pool and I start into my marathon training program.

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